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Urban Economics in Historical Perspective: Evidence from Berlin in the Late Era of Industrialization

Staff involved: Gabriel Ahlfeldt

This project, funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG), aims at a comprehensive empirical evaluation of classic and recent Urban Economics theories. It encompasses the collection and digitalization of a one-of-a-kind historical dataset for Berlin, Germany from 1850 to 1940 in order to quantitatively test and reassess theories as well as historical evidence.

Following the digital processing of historical maps, a rich set of dynamic variables that capture the city's economic development will be extracted. Highly disaggregated intra-urban spatial data on land use and value, public infrastructure and transport networks as well population and income proxies will be merged within a GIS environment to facilitate the dynamic evaluation of the urban structure in a spatial economic analysis.

While Berlin at the beginning of the 19th century still represented a typical monocentric city it became one of the most dynamic urban agglomerations in continental Europe over the sample period. The city thereby offers one of the rare opportunities to track the evolution of a city's structure from the onset of emerging (monocentric) functional segregation until its transformation into a polycentric metropolis. As a result, the project will produce a unique body of historic data and evidence that, if at all, is only matched worldwide by the case of Chicago.

Related publications:

1)      http://rlab.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/abstract.asp?index=4415 and http://joeg.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/6/1169

2)      http://rlab.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/abstract.asp?index=4107 and http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3982/ECTA10876/abstract

3)      http://joeg.oxfordjournals.org/content/13/1/53

4)      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166046210000736

5)      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165176509002043